All news

Press review: New German cabinet unlikely to hinder Nord Stream 2 and US to sabotage OPEC+

Top stories from the Russian press on Thursday, November 25th

Vedomosti: New German cabinet unlikely to hinder launch of Nord Stream 2

Nearly two months after Germany’s parliamentary elections, the Social Democrats, the Greens and the Free Democrats reached a coalition government agreement. Social Democrat Olaf Scholz will be the new chancellor, while one of the Greens’ leaders Annalena Baerbock will take the foreign minister’s position and the co-chairman of the Greens will head the new ministry of climate and economy, Vedomosti notes.

The agreement does not mention the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project, while highlighting gas as a vital energy source in terms of ensuring the transition to a green economy. At the same time, the document emphasizes "the importance of stable relations" with Russia.

Germany - as well as Europe in general, except for a few Eastern European countries - has reached a consensus on Nord Stream 2, Deputy Director General of Russia’s National Energy Security Fund Alexei Grivach pointed out. The new German government is unlikely to actively confront the gas pipeline and the position of the Greens will have little impact on Germany’s real policy, Grivach added.

According to Alfa Bank Senior Analyst Nikita Blokhin, some members of the future German cabinet have already made statements that Nord Stream 2 is purely an economic project.

Although the Greens’ participation in the government will boost activities related to the "Green Deal," it will not affect Nord Stream 2, said Alexander Kamkin from the German Studies Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of European Studies. In his view, despite the bombastic rhetoric, Russia and Germany will reach a compromise and resolve the issue of the pipeline’s certification.


Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Taiwan may complicate US relations with China

US President Joe Biden will host the much-touted virtual Summit for Democracy on December 9-10, confirming Washington’s desire to restore itself as a global leader in the face of China and Russia. The odds are that the United States’ move to invite Taiwan to the event will significantly complicate the global situation, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes.

The Western media pointed out that the Middle East will be represented only by Israel and Iraq, while US allies such as Egypt and Turkey did not have the honor to be invited, just like US Asian partners Thailand, Vietnam, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Besides, the summit may lead to a further rise in tensions between the US and China because of Taiwan.

China has recently used a new tool of pressure. Taiwan’s giant Far Eastern Group (FEG), which had earlier invested in various Chinese industries, has been fined $5.72 mln for tax offences and fire safety violations. However, according to the Western media, politics was the real reason. FEG donated $2.09 mln to the Democratic Progressive Party during the 2020 local election campaign in Taiwan.

According to Alexander Lukin, who heads the International Affairs Department at the Higher School of Economics, Taiwan is a major investor in China but Beijing "may sacrifice some investment coming from companies that it dislikes." "China will lose something from that but not much. It will be willing to do so. If China moves to cut ties, it will be Taiwan’s economy that will suffer a lot. However, it will irritate the Taiwanese people. Their attitude to China will worsen even more and it will become harder to convince them that unification is desirable. No one likes a country that slaps economic sanctions against you," the expert noted.


Media: Russia approves first coronavirus vaccine for children

Russia has approved its first coronavirus vaccine for children and teenagers aged 12 to 17 years. It will be based on Sputnik V, which has proven to be safe and effective, according to experts. Kids and teens will be vaccinated solely on a voluntary basis, provided that their parents of teens themselves (aged over 15) give their consent, Izvestia writes.

"The child population in Russia stands at about 30-35% so it’s crucial to inoculate kids too in order to reach herd immunity," Head of the Genomic Engineering Laboratory at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology Pavel Volchkov points out.

Pediatrician Yevgeny Timakov told Vedomosti that not each and every teen would be vaccinated. By the time the jab is rolled out for wider use, many children will have obtained natural immunity. The goal will be to vaccinate at-risk groups, including socially active kids who don’t abide by safety measures, overweight children and those with endocrine diseases.

"Most vaccines on the national list are administered in childhood," Director of the Russian Health Ministry’s National Medical Research Center of Children's Health Andrei Fisenko told Izvestia. "Childrens’ immunity makes it possible for us to use vaccination to create protection for them in their later years," the expert explained.

The vaccination of children kicked off in Europe in mid-summer, so it’s no surprise that the issue is pressing for Russia, too, Bakulev Scientific Center of Cardiovascular Surgery Director Elena Golukhova noted. "In Russia, the vaccine is produced based on Sputnik, which has already proven to be safe and effective," she added.


Rossiyskaya Gazeta: US seeks to destroy OPEC+ deal

A new alliance has emerged on the global oil market that can be called "anti-OPEC+." The United States has managed to persuade major oil exporters to tap their strategic reserves to bring oil prices down. The OPEC+ group may respond by cutting the rate of oil output growth, but in order to do that, OPEC+ members need to unite, since it is their unity that the actions of the US and its partners may destroy, Rossiyskaya Gazeta notes.

The market’s reaction makes it clear that players did not take the United States’ intentions seriously, Deputy Director General of the National Energy Institute Alexander Frolov emphasized. According to him, while accusing OPEC+ of manipulating the market, the US seeks to do the same.

The question is how OPEC+ countries will react to the move by the US and its partners. According to Associate Professor at the Russian Government’s Financial University Valery Andrianov, US actions will likely be ignored and the deal’s participants will continue to increase oil production at the rates they agreed earlier. It’s also possible that OPEC+ will cut oil output for the amount that will exceed the US oil intervention in order to achieve a result opposite to what Washington expects from the group. A move to raise output and recognize pressure as effective seems to be the most unlikely scenario.

If OPEC+ eventually reacts by reducing oil production, the risk is that US actions will raise differences among the deal’s participants. This is why OPEC+ will leave the deal’s previous parameters unchanged, Head of Commodity Strategy at Saxo Bank Ole Hansen noted. According to him, the danger of disagreements inside the group will outweigh the risk of a minor decline in oil prices.


Izvestia: Russian retailers expect Black Friday sales revenues to double

The annual Black Friday sales event is about to kick off in Russia. Retailers are looking forward to record high revenues. There will be no additional coronavirus restrictions or preventive measures as retail is already operating in accordance with the national sanitary watchdog’s requirements, Izvestia writes.

Retailers expect Black Friday sales revenues to double in 2021 compared to last year, Association of Internet Trade Companies President Artem Sokolov said. He pointed out that in 2020, Russians spent nearly 40 bln rubles ($535 mln) on discounted goods, an 80% rise from 2019. According to the Association of Internet Trade Companies, what makes the 2020 and 2021 pandemic years special is that sales occur across all categories of goods and services, from airline tickets to building supplies.

Russia’s sales events are different from those in the United States and Europe, head of the Association of Retail Market Experts Andrei Karpov emphasized. In other countries, retailers hold sales on Black Friday in order to clear their stocks, while in Russia, in some cases it’s more of a marketing gimmick and a promotional stunt.

Some retail chains will not limit their sales to just a three-day event. In recent years, Russians have been inclined to start preparations for the holiday season early in a bid to better distribute their spending and save money, a spokesperson for the M.Video-Eldorado electronics retailer noted.

This is the reason why retailers now tend to launch annual sales earlier on because they consider such an approach to be more reasonable. It makes it possible for customers to get great bargains on the goods they want, while retailers have the opportunity to operate in a calmer mode.

TASS is not responsible for the material quoted in these press reviews